Disney will tolerate password sharing on Disney+ — for now

Technology

Do you pay for your own Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or HBO Now accounts? A simple truth of today is that many of us share access to streaming services. Maybe you split the cost with friends or family. Maybe you’ve managed to cling to an ex’s streaming account (and they’ve been nice enough not to change the password). Disney is aware that this is the reality of consumer behavior as it launches Disney+, and the company acknowledges that its new service is in for the same treatment.

With generous usage guidelines (four concurrent streams, up to seven user profiles per account, etc.), Disney+ is inevitably going to be shared by people. The service is meant to be enjoyed by everyone in your household, but there will also likely be people who share their passwords with friends across the country.

Disney seems to be okay with this scenario — to a point.

“Password sharing is definitely something we think about,” Michael Paull, president of Disney Streaming Services, said during a Disney+ media preview last week. According to Paull, Disney is hopeful that customers will recognize just how much they’re getting for $6.99 per month (free 4K/HDR, unlimited downloads, etc.) and use the service within reason.

“We believe that consumers will see that value, and they’re going to act accordingly,” he said. “They’re going to use those accounts for their family, for their household. That being said, we do recognize password sharing exists and will continue to exist.”

But Disney has tools at its disposal if password sharing gets out of hand or becomes an obstacle that stunts Disney+’s growth. “We have created some technology that’s in the backend that we will use to understand behavior,” Paull said. “And when we see behavior that doesn’t make sense, we have mechanisms that we’ve put in place that will deal with it.”

The company obviously knows what devices you’re using to stream the service. If that list of hardware grows unusually long for a single account, there’s one red flag Disney could take into account. Disney+ does not ask for location permissions when used on mobile devices, but it can’t be all that difficult for the company to approximate your general region through its data servers and other backend methods.

But even if it does have measures in place to combat excessive password sharing, Disney doesn’t want to turn the dial to a point where things become annoyingly restrictive for customers, so for now, you’re probably okay to let your friends and family get a sample of Disney+.


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